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Reporters' Roundtable: LightSquared and the spectrum mess

LightSquared was supposed to save us from the bandwidth crisis. But the $4 billion startup stalled out when the FCC withdrew approval to use the spectrum it bought. Here's what it means.

Now playing: Watch this: Reporters' Roundtable Ep. 111: Lightsquared and the spectrum...


How do you throw away $4 billion? Buy spectrum you can't use. That seems to be what LightSquared did. The company bought access to a chunk of spectrum, and planned to create a new wholesale wireless network.

But the FCC this week said, sorry, your planned use of your spectrum intereferes with GPS. The FCC withdrew the waiver it had previously given LightSquared to allow it to operate, and now LightSquared is sitting on what appears to be a toxic asset: Not only can it not use the spectrum, but the FCC ruling means no one else can, either.

Or can they? What's happening here, and how will it affect you, the user of mobile devices who just wants more bandwidth?

We're discussing this today with two experts from CNET News:

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Discussion points:

Introduction: What is (or was) LightSquared? What problem was it solving? Why does it matter?

Discuss the technology behind LightSquared.

What was the first indication of the technical problem? The licensing problem?

Was the test rigged?

What exactly is the "GPS industry?"

Can we get a sense of the politics at play here?

What will happen to Lightsquared's partners?

What are the lessons here for other companies?

Discuss the role of the FCC.

What's the outlook like for consumers now?